It’s hot! It’s summer! Veggy abundance and cold soups and let’s not heat up the kitchen too much summer. Here are a couple of tips for easy and tasty meals that filled me with the joy of the season and maybe will do the same for you!
Here’s the simple recipe for the soup. Know that is is not strict in any way. Cook it longer, shorter, use any veggies. I used what I had on hand and suggest you do the same. It’s a twist on Vichyssoise, so I think as long as you add a couple of potatoes and some form of onions, you’ll be fine.
In order to keep the kitchen as cool as possible, if you want to cook something else, try steaming it over the soup or what I did, cooking it in the soup. About halfway through cooking my soup I put two ears of corn into the soup and simmered them until done, about 15 minutes. I took them out and then added the next two ears. A little sweetness and flavor for the soup, but more importantly, I didn’t heat up another burner. It’s helpful on these hot summer days!
Here’s what I put in my Silky Summer Soup (enough for 4 for a meal, 8 for small starter)
2 medium potatoes
2 small leeks
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
bit of olive oil
splash of sherry
salt, pepper & freshly ground coriander*seeds to taste
vegetable stock or water, 1.5 liters or enough to cover vegetables
To begin, roughly chop all your veggies, chopping the potatoes into a bit smaller chunks so they cook along with the other veggies. Preheat your pan just a bit on medium high. Then drizzle some olive oil into the pan and add all the veggies except the garlic. Add a little salt to bring out the juices. Cook until just softened, stirring often, maybe 10 minutes or a bit longer. Add in the garlic, a bit of salt, pepper and ground coriander seeds, and cook another five minutes, making sure to stir so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the splash of sherry and stir, deglaze any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Next add your veggie stock or water, enough to cover all the vegetables and cook for 45 minutes to an hour (Steam other foods now or simmer directly in soup). When all the veggies are soft, get out your immersion blender and blend the soup together. Add about 1/2 liter of crème fraîche, more or less to taste. Adjust the seasonings and then put in the fridge to chill. If you put it into several smaller containers it will chill much faster.
That’s it. Serve and enjoy the bounty of summer.
Speaking of the bounty of summer, here’s another delicious and simple meal or side salad to go with the soup. This tastes of summer to me. And it’s super easy to put together.
Tuna Nectarine Salad (serves 2 for light lunch)
3 nectarines, ripe and ready, sliced into bite sized bits (I used 4 white donut nectarines – beautiful!)
1 small can tuna
chopped green onions
8-10 lettuce leaves, washed and dried splash of light vinegar (I used tarragon vinegar today) bigger splash of grape seed (or other lightly flavored oil, not olive) 1 teaspoon coriander* seeds, ground in pepper grinder or smashed-mortar and pestle style salt and peper to taste.
Put the vinegar, oil, coriander seeds, salt and pepper in the salad bowl and stir. Add the tuna and the nectarines and toss, leaving while you clean the lettuce and chop the onions. Add the lettuce and onions (and anything else that sounds good) and toss together for a yummy taste of summer.
There are some beautiful canned tunas available to us here in Europe. I used smoked tuna for the salad above and the combination with the sweet nectarines was incredible!
Happy summer – stay cool and enjoy!
*I love freshly ground coriander always, but especially in the summer. It’s slightly lemony flavor goes great with most veggies. Just put the whole seeds into a spice grinder or crunch them with a mortar and pestle. I re-use spice mix grinders like these and just put my coriander, cumin & other spices in them.
Above is a scene from our Italian cooking event with our friends Giovanni & Stefania in December. Fabulous people, fabulous food, creative cooking. We began the morning with coffee and a quick hello, then jumped right into cooking together. Giovanni and Stefania made beautiful gnocchi with three sauces, a playful salad, and then the custard tart that I had no room for, but was so light that I somehow, managed the whole piece without feeling more full! How’d they do that???
That’s Giovanni in the photo rolling out the tender Gnocchi, and Giuseppe – the olive oil man – in the background. (Speaking of Giuseppe, we had hoped to do an olive oil tasting in early 2015, but it wasn’t a good year for Giuseppe’s olives in 2014, so we are holding off on that. However we are planning another event – Trinidadian cooking anyone??)
My heartfelt thanks to all that made this possible – Sarah for your beautiful home, Idit for being photographer, and of course Giovanni and Stefania for coming all the way from Tuscany to share their wonderful cooking expertise and more importantly, their warm and open spirit. And thanks to all that joined in. We had a wonderful variety of people who were helpful as well as patient and understanding. After arriving at 9am, we still hadn’t eaten at 1pm, but I tell you, it was worth the wait! Oh…and the wine was lovely. From Denner – a Chianti and a couple of Brunellos di Montalcino…it was a fine meal!
More pix from this event coming soon – keep an eye out. Also should you find yourself in Tuscany and want to find a warm and wonderful place to stay…check out Giove’s Way– their terrific bed and breakfast in Montalcino – complete with amazing hosts. Go and see for yourself. Cooking classes, hiking, wine tasting…and spectacular views of the rolling hills of Tuscany. Nice to think about on a winter’s day in Basel…
Ok these are so easy and so tasty – my family loves them and guests too. Have your treats without the guilt! These are sweet and caloric but they are good calories – far from the empty calories of most candy bars (More info on dates here).
Almond Butter Dates with Dark Chocolate
*I make my own almond butter by just taking almond meal (easily available in Switzerland at Coop and Migros) and blending it with a non flavored oil, (grape seed works well) a bit of honey and salt to taste. Delish and easy!
Just cut the dates in half and take out the pit. Fill with almond butter and add two small pieces of dark chocolate to the top. That’s it! Oh, freeze if you like. I love them frozen. These are not only good for dessert, but also just as a snack when you are craving something sweet.
Maria Wilson, who introduced me to this lovely recipe, says they taste like frozen SNICKERS® to her – to me they just taste amazing! Try them for yourself and please let me know what you think!!!
Schedules are busy, so we have postponed this event till next fall. In September, join Chef Philippe Bamas of Restaurant & Bistro Sonne in Bottmingen for a morning of cooking and an evening of finest dining. Originally from Provence, this innovative French chef now delights diners in Basel lucky enough to find him. Find him I did, and after happily eating there on several occasions, I met the owner and chef, and well, here we are!
10 of us will cook together with Mr. Bamas on Saturday morning for several hours. Then we get to go home, rest and tidy up (hey let’s make it a DUGO night – Dress Up, Go Out!) and go back to the restaurant with the guest of our choice to enjoy together what we have prepared.
Cook & Dine Package
–Cook with Chef Bamas for 4 -5 hours on Saturday morning/afternoon (Get ready to work.)
–Prepare and enjoy this hand selected menu that was especially designed for Expat Kochen!
–Kickstart your cooking abilities by learning amazing techniques from this innovative & passionate chef.
–Learn from a master – ask questions – be inspired!
–Indulge in a feast for 2, including a trio of starters, fish as a main course, and a decadent chocolate dessert. –Enjoy an aperitif and wine as part of the menu, along with water and coffee. –Take home recipes, life long skills, and amazing memories.
Just eating for two at this fine restaurant would cost around 300 Chf. For only 100 Chf more, you can learn from and cook with the master and have an incredible meal for 2 including a glass of wine with each course – all for 400 Chf.
“If you want to treat your guests to food of the highest possible standard, then using fresh, high-quality ingredients goes without saying. However, freshness alone will not bring that happy smile to people’s faces that tells the chef he has got it right.
Philippe Bamas’ roots lie in picturesque Provence. His cooking style has also been inspired by his travels all over the world. The result is light, delicate dishes that never cease to surprise: they are unmistakeable and sophisticated. At the Sonne Bottmingen, Philippe Bamas looks forward to delighting you with his passion for the very best.”
And now, to further inspire you and whet your appetite, here’s a link for the menu…Cook&Dine-menu. (Note it includes foie gras, tuna and more, fish as the main course and a decadent chocolate dessert!)
This is an incredible opportunity to work with an up and coming chef who happens to live in our own back yard. Don’t miss your chance to join this unique class. If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible to hold your place with a 100 Chf deposit.
Cook & Dine Experience for 1 cook, 2 diners at Restaurant Sonne, Bottmingen
Saturday morning and evening, 1st of February, May 17th, 2014
400 Chf for entire experience, cooking for 1, dining for 2
As the holidays approach I am looking forward to sharing my handmade, by my own hands, foie gras! What a treat it was to go and spend time with Monsieur Marcel Metzler of La Boutique Canoie in Gueberschwihr. He and his family welcomed us with open arms and incredible food!
On Friday evening we had a sumptuous meal at his restaurant, Le Goldert, complete with three types of foie gras; duck, goose, and a combination of the two. Amazing. And a perfect way to prepare us for the morning class.
After stuffing ourselves with incredible food and wine we wandered (or did we roll? It was downhill!) to our lovely apartments. The next morning we had a bit of coffee and treats together and then we were ready!
We headed upstairs from the Boutique and began with a history of foie gras, including details of how the geese and duck are fed (FYI They are not force fed, in fact, Monsieur Metzler says that only makes sick animals, not good foie gras), and then how the livers are harvested and delivered to him ultra-fresh.
(Just recently I heard a great story on This American Lifeabout foie gras and the way it is made, and indeed how it doesn’t work to force feed the birds, but instead to care for them tenderly. I invite you to listen to this story and leave a comment here after listening. This story goes right along with everything that we learned from Monsieur Metzler.)
After that things moved pretty quickly as you can see…
We listened, we learned, we cleaned and prepared our foie gras. Wanna learn yourself? Get yourself to La Boutique Canoie or join us for the Expat Kochen class next year. I am so looking forward to it!
Next Candy was bestowed with the “top chef” crown. Way to go Candy!
After that we went to a wine tasting at Domaine Bernard Humbrecht for more deliciousness while our foie gras was cooking. No fun at all, can you tell? 😉
Gathered our things from the apartments and then headed back to La Boutique Canoie so we each could bring home our homemade, handmade foie gras…along with big smiles!What a wonderful 24 hours in Alsace. (I must admit that I liked it so much I stayed till over so I got 48 hours or so – glorious!) Thanks to all the participants. And here’s to doing it again next year!
With that I wish you all happy holidays and a fabulous start to 2014. Cook with love, eat well, take time to enjoy your food and your loved ones. See you next year!
Recently when wanting a “different” salad, I saw that I had some baby romaine lettuce and thought of grilling it, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Have you heard of or tried grilling lettuce? I know, sounds kind of odd, and perhaps it is, but then isn’t anything that is new odd, at least for a while? Anyway, I have grilled lettuce and loved the slightly roasted flavor that results for the whole salad.
However, as I said the weather wasn’t cooperating. So plan B (I often end up liking plan B much better than plan A. You?) it was. I began by caramelizing lots of onions in olive oil and a sprinkle or two of salt. I had bought a huge bag and they weren’t lasting so I needed to use them, and caramelizing is always such a great solution. Not only do you end up with an onion jam that is a great accompaniment for so many things, you also get to enjoy the smell as you cook them – marvelous!
Once the onions were nicely yellowing I put half of them into a jar for later use, and then added some dried chopped figs to the mix. (In Basel is the season for those lovely ones from Spain, available at Coop and Migros)
After sautéeing them for about 7 minutes, I deglazed the pan with some sherry, and took the onions and figs out of the pan and set them aside. Then I added a bit more olive oil (about a tablespoon) and put the cut romaine lettuce, cut side down, into the pan and left for about 5 minutes, until the cut side was just beginning to brown.
I flipped them over and moved them around so that all the lettuce could get those lovely browned bits on the bottom.
And that was about it. I did slice and add some avocado to the mix. You can do the same, adding whatever you have on hand that sounds good. Plate the salad individually with the onion fig jam on top, and then drizzle with balsamic or balsamic crema (buy or make). This salad was a big hit, and other than taking the time to caramelize the onions (which should never be rushed, but can be done ahead of time), was quick.
This is a very satisfying salad, especially as the weather turns cold. Let me know if you try it.
An overnight getaway, dinner, learning foie gras preparation, wine tasting, hiking around a beautiful and yet, not so well known Alsatian town? WHO’S IN?
After years of organizing events in the Basel area I am happy to announce the first everExpat Kochen Field Research Class. The topic: FOIE GRAS. The place: Gueberschwihr. Gueberschwihr, about an hour from Basel, is a charming little gem of a town. At first glance you might pass it by, but you would miss a lovely spot with cobblestone streets, traditional Alsatian architecture, and warm, inviting people.
Surrounded by vineyards and spectacular views, on Friday night we will dine at the Restaurant le Goldert where our meal will be prepared by Marcel Metzler, chef and Artisan Createur de Foie Gras. We will spend the night at a nearby Gite, or bed and breakfast within stumbling distance of the restaurant.
Saturday morning after breakfast we will attend Mr. Metzler’s Foie Gras Class, where we will learn how to clean and prepare duck liver for foie gras. Next comes wine-tasting/food pairing class in the village, followed by some free time while the foie gras cooks. You can grab a picnic and hike to see the spectacular views, wander the town and continue wine-tasting, or just sit and soak up the ambience.
By late afternoon our foie gras will be ready for pickup. We’ll meet at the Goldert restaurant for afternoon coffee or tea, grab our goodies and be ready to go. Unless you aren’t ready to leave, in which case you are welcome to arrange to stay for Saturday night as well and make a fabulous weekend getaway out of it!
THE DATES: NOVEMBER 15 – 16, 2013
Stay in Gueberschwihr, a town at the foot of the Voges mountains in the wine country of Alsace.
Learn the art of preparing foie gras from Chef Marcel Metzler, foie gras specialist.
Enjoy Friday night dinner specially prepared for us by Chef Marcel Metzler.
Taste wine in a “cave” that has been operating since the 1600’s.
Explore the spectacular views hiking the area (map provided).
Enjoy sharing this experience with other Basel area foodies!
Take home 400 grams of foie gras, preserved and ready to open for your next special occasion, or just because you can’t wait!
Enjoy a welcome glass of Cremant upon arrival, and take home a special gift from Expat Kochen as a memento.
Price: 350 Chf per person. Early Bird Discount of 50 Chf available to those who sign up and arrange deposit by October 15!
Email me for the details. 10 people max for this excursion — (only 7 spots left). Sign up soon!
Here’s to taking advantage of where we live and grabbing experiences when we can. And here’s to enjoying the area, the people, the wine, the food and the preparing of it, together. I am so looking forward to this adventure – already have some people signed up. Won’t you join us?
Smiling in anticipation,
Remember space is extremely limited – contact me soon!
This colorful, crunchy salad is filled with enough yumminess to make a meal. And tastes like summer to me – as school starts next week for my kids, I am reveling in the last days! Ahhh, summer!
Confetti Couscous Salad
225 g (8 oz) couscous
2 bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ground coriander seeds
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped and blanched*
1 sweet potato, peeled and cooked in salted water, then roughly chopped
60 g (2 oz) sunflower seeds
60 g (2 oz) sesame seeds (I used black which look so lovely)
30 g (1 oz) flax seeds
1 lime, juice and zest
1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to taste)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Cook the sweet potato in salted water and blanch the carrots. (To blanch simply drop the carrots into boiling water for a minute or two depending on the size of the carrot, then put into cold water to stop the cooking process.) Then roughly chop both.
Cover the couscous with twice its volume of hot water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
Mix all ingredients together and leave to stand for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop.
Serve at room temperature. (I like it chilled also, especially on a hot day!)
You might want to add a bit of hot pepper sauce to the mix (stir in with lime juice and olive oil). The result is tasty and summery, looks like a big bowl of confetti to me. What fun! By the way, my 13 year old loved this – hope you do too.
Ok, it’s official. These tastings are so delightful – they must happen at least annually! We did have some issues at this most recent event, too much olive oil to taste! Such a problem, but somehow we persevered.
If you have followed this blog for a while you may remember hearing about Giuseppe Virgallita and his home olive oil deliveries about a year ago. Giuseppe and Maria Therese are from Italy, and for the past several years, Giuseppe has been bringing his family olive oil to Basel, selling it to anyone interested. When I heard about it I was intrigued, and so it was that we came to taste olive oil with Expat Kochen about a year ago.
This tasting was all about abundance! Last week, someone overheard our hostess, Linda, speaking about the upcoming tasting when she was at the golf course. The gentleman approached Linda, told her about his French olive oil from Provence, and gave her several bottles to bring to the tasting.
Then one of the attendees, Lara, told me that her neighbor, also from Italy, sells olive oil, and sure enough she brought several for us to taste. Technically we probably should have stayed with around 4, maybe 5 oils to taste, as Giuseppe says that the professional tasters only taste two at a time. I think there were 10 plus! We didn’t each taste them all, but we were happy to try many, to be able to pick and choose, take a break, eat some of the yummy food, sip some Italian wine, and then taste again.
Great people, great weather, beautiful setting, and delicious olive oil! I call that ABUNDANCE!
Thanks to Linda for hosting and providing food, to Giuseppe and Maria Therese for the beautiful oils and pizza, and to Lara for bringing oil too.
Now for the recipes…you can find them all online. Just click the links below for a starting place, then do your own thing!
Linda made Bruschetta – there are many recipes available with different twists, but here is a simple one, pretty much what Linda did.
There are many definitions/recipes for sofrito. I made a Spanish style sofrito, consisting of tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, olives and spices cooked down to almost a paste.
You can find the recipe for that sofrito here, second recipe down. It was a big hit at the tasting, and we agreed that it might be something to just have in the larder for so many things…mixed into salad, with pasta, on pizza, on bread for bruschetta, on a tortilla with some melted mozzarella, mmmm, so many possibilities!
Enjoy your food and all that goes into it, perhaps olive oil, love, and your artistic flare!
Unfortunately we must postpone this event. The turnout was looking small, and some things came up personally for us as hosts. So we look forward to rescheduling this pampering event for later this year. Meanwhile here’s a recipe for one of the dishes we had planned to serve. I tried it out on unsuspecting guests last weekend…thanks to Liz for sharing her old Donna Hay magazines. They are such an inspiration!
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
To make the pickled cucumber, place the sugar, vinegar and salt in a non-metalic bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the cucumber and stir to combine. Set aside.
2 cups (400 g) sushi rice
3 cups (750 ml) water
1/3 cup (80 ml) rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
400 g (14 oz) cooked prawns, peeled, tails removed, and halved lengthwise
wasabi paste and soy sauce to serve
Place the rice and water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a non-metallic bowl and stir until dissolved. Spread the rice over the base of a large, shallow non-metallic dish and sprinkle with the vinegar mixture. Stir with a spatula for 5 minutes or until cool to the touch.
Line a 20cm x 30cm tin with plastic wrap. Line the base of the tin with the prawns, (pink side down). Top with the rice and press down firmly. Place a sheet of non-stick baking paper on top and fold over the plastic wrap to enclose. Place a piece of cardboard on top and weigh down with cans. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Turn out, slice and serve with wasabi, soy sauce and the pickled cucumber. Serves 6.
Rylla Ramblings: Next time I would consider putting just a tiny bit of wasabi on the shrimp, then adding the rice, and perhaps drizzling soy sauce over the top once it is flipped over. I used a Pyrex dish to do this and it worked beautifully. I was worried it might fall apart when releasing it from the pan, but had no problems. It was so pretty coming out as a big rectangle that I served it like that, then sliced it when we were ready to eat. The variations on this are endless…and it is beautiful and lovely to serve to a crowd!
Do let me know if you try it; would love to hear how it goes!
And we will let you know when we reschedule this event. Happy cooking!
My favorite second hand boutique in the area is Micaela’s in Riehen. I have found some lovely treasures there – and recommend it highly. Micaela now has a new location just down the street – Micaela’s Gifts, Accessories, Art, with gifts downstairs and a salon upstairs!
We get to share cocktails and pampering in her lovely new space. Art, sculpture, one of a kind scarves, colorful Italian gloves. Candles for spring and summer and more. Come and take a peek, shop if you like. Drink some tropical cocktails, eat some delectable nibbles, celebrate spring/summer with us.
And get pampered! You can make appointments for hair styling/cutting, manicures and pedicures and foot massage/reflexology (charged separately). Appointments are limited by space and time, so if you are interested, call Micaela’s as soon as possible. We will be there on May 18th from 2pm – 6pm, and appointments are available throughout. Here is the contact information. (If you want to speak English call the cell number.)
Micaela’s Gifts, Accessories, Art
061 641 08 32 – shop/salon 076 372 15 56 – cell
I am soooo ready for summer, and am eager to usher it in with you all. Hope you can join us!
TROPICAL TOOTSIES, COCKTAILS AND PAMPERING. DETAILS HERE.
Schmiedgasse 10 4125 Riehen
Saturday, 18th of May, 2013, 14:00 – 18:00
25 CHF in advance, 35 CHF at the door for cocktails and appetizers. (Salon services extra – contact Micaela’s for details)
By May 12th please, firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited. Payment info and directions will be sent via email.